Madurai: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Central government to follow the provisions of the Official Languages Act, 1963 strictly.
The High Court said that the Centre should reply in the language in which the state government sends the application to the Central government.
"Once a representation is given in English, it is the duty of the Union government to give the reply in English only," the court said.
The directions by a division bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and M Duraiswamy came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Madurai Lok Sabha MP S. Venkatesh.
"Tamil Nadu has not set up an examination centre in Pondicherry for the written test to fill 780 vacancies in Group B and Group C. So I sent a letter on October 9 to the Ministry of Home Affairs asking them to set up at least one examination centre in these areas," read the petition by Venkatesh.
"The Minister of State for Home Affairs had sent a reply in a letter written in Hindi on November 9. Thus I could not know what they were saying in it," it said.
Hearing the PIL, The Bench said, "Answering in Hindi is a violation of the law. The people of Tamil Nadu continue to respond in Hindi to letters sent to the Central Government asking them to address their grievances. This is contrary to constitutional legal rights and the Official Languages Act of 1963."
"MPs from non-Hindi speaking states are violating the rights. Therefore, letters should not be sent in Hindi to the Government of Tamil Nadu, Members of Parliament of Tamil Nadu and the people of Tamil Nadu. The Central Government should send letters only in English. It should also order action against officials who violate the rule," it stated.
The order issued by the Bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and M Duraiswamy said, "Mother tongue is very important. Basic education should be provided in the mother tongue. But at present, the emphasis is on the English way of education. The English language is given more importance in economic terms."
The Bench stated whatever the message, the explanation is complete only when it is understood in the mother tongue.
"The government should realise the importance of each language and take appropriate steps for their development," said the Bench.
"The Indian Office Language Act also confirms this. However, the petitioner has been given a reply in Hindi in this case," said the court. The Central Government has stated that it has no intention of violating the rule.